Azahar (orange blossom in Spanish) is a platform for free, customizable applications and Serious Games designed to improve the quality of life and autonomy of people with autism and/or intellectual disability.
The applications contain pictograms, glyphs, images and sounds that can be adapted to each player: new pictograms, photos and voices of family members and friends can be added for personalizing the experience, adjusting it to the players’ needs according to the level of complexity they can handle.
The applications, as well as the user guide that provides instructions for their use, are downloadable free of charge on the project website: www.proyectoazahar.org and available in Spanish, English, French and Polish.
The project was launched some years ago for Windows SO and more recently, adapted versions for Android and iOS have also been developed.
User Configuration Screen User Section
Under the Downloads tab on the Azahar website, the installer for the base platform for each operating system can be downloaded. The different applications can also be found on the website and work on any of the supported operating systems.
Azahar is the result of the collaboration between the Autism and Learning Difficulties Group of the Robotics Institute at the University of Valencia and the Orange Foundation Spain. During the development phase, testing and user tryouts were completed in partnership with the associations Autism Ávila and Autism Burgos. The project has also received financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, through the Avanza (Advance) Plan, joining forces with the Adapta Foundation for free distribution on the internet.
Azahar utilizes the TEACCH Program philosophy to provide a clear and simple visual structure to people with autism.
The TEACCH® Autism Program is a clinical, training, and research program based at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. TEACCH developed the intervention approach called “Structured TEACCHing”, an array of teaching or treatment principles and strategies based on the learning characteristics of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), including strengths in visual information processing and difficulties with social communication, attention, and executive function. “Structured TEACCHing” is not a curriculum, but instead is a framework to support achievement of educational and therapeutic goals, promoting meaningful engagement in activities, flexibility, independence, and self-efficacy.
One of the Azahar applications, the Sentences Construction, takes its inspiration from another communication intervention: the PECS system.
PECS was developed in 1985 as a unique augmentative/alternative communication intervention package for individuals with ASD and related developmental disabilities.
PECS begins by teaching an individual to give a picture of a desired item to a “communicative partner", who immediately honors the exchange as a request. The system goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how to put them together in sentences. In the more advanced phases, individuals are taught to answer questions and to comment.
About the Autism and Learning Difficulties Group of the University of Valencia
The Autism and Learning Difficulties Group of the University of Valencia works on the research and development of new technologies in order to improve the quality of life of people with autism and learning difficulties.
The Azahar project has been developed by a team of experts in IT engineering, education, fine art, telecommunications engineering and industrial design, who have contributed with their efforts and experience in the creation of tools which respond to the needs of those with ASD.
Direct contact with people with autism is one of the keys to the success of the group, and the effectiveness of the applications it develops. People with autism have been attending the University facilities where they have participated, and continue to participate in the different research activities. Furthermore, the group members pay regular visits to centers and services where they complete a range of investigations and where they find their main source of learning and knowledge about autism.